Friday, 18 February 2011

La battaglia di Algeri

My first thought about this film was how remarkably it managed to stay politically neutral, yet was an Italian and Algergian co-production. The film is based around the French colonial rule in the Algerian war 1954-62, and takes place in the city of Algiers.

Children walk up to French soldiers and shoot them in the face, woman plant bombs in cafés, the French soldiers have to slap people about to get answers. Soon the whole nation kicks off. I think this is such a relevant film; surely the situation sounds familiar? The French plan worked well as far as tactics are concerned, but by watching this film you'll see why it ultimately failed.

In 2003 they actually showed this in the Pentagon with regards to illustrating the problems that were in Iraq. Such relevance found in the history of this film, why don't people ever learn from it?

The most difficult thing is finding a film that contains a political nature and war, yet remains neutral, showing the perspectives from both sides. I think this is what makes this film a success. It almost has a documentary feel about it, due to the visual styles used.

The film was directed by an Italian director (Gillo Pontecorvo) who supposedly felt sympathetic to Algerian nationalism yet insisted this neutral perspective, showing how both French and Algerians suffered. Besides this, and despite winning tonnes of awards, the film was still banned in France for 5 years. It also features a score by Ennio Morricone which is always welcomed...

The film uses the camera as a neutral observer allowing us to witness events from both sides that let to full scale war. There are no heroes or villains only humans both fighting for different causes. I rate this film so highly due to its sublime direction, observational camera that's fuelled not only with the aforementioned perspectives but superb cinematography. It's hard to believe none of the footage is real, which makes it even more unforgettable.

Col. Mathieu: There are 80,000 Arabs in the Kasbah. Are they all against us? We know they're not. In reality, it's only a small minority that dominates with terror and violence. This minority is our adversary and we must isolate and destroy it.

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